I have wrestled with light against darkness this year and I have won.
But it was a hard-earned victory, so while I have conquered, I am weary.
Maybe you have fought this fight, too?
I was full of expectant hope when I plugged in our pre-lit tree. I wanted the easy victory. Put the tree together, plug it in, and enjoy the beauty.
Now at first I didn’t want this pre-lit tree because of the risk and the danger of one day plugging it in and seeing only darkness. I wanted the old-fashioned kind of artificial tree where you wrap the lights yourself.
When we went tree shopping several years ago, though, pre-lit was the only option at the store. And so far, we had decorated with ease.
But this year I saw my prophecy fulfilled, a pre-lit tree full of lights that didn’t work.
It was a struggle, intense and long and not without its share of scars, but I overcame the darkness, pulling out the old and dead, even cutting it away at times, all so I could bring in the new, the fresh and the full-of-light.
Having conquered the tree, I moved onto other decorations the next day: The garland outside, with lights wound around it still from last year–only half of those lights turned on, too.
And the garland inside that I drape over the mirrors—no lights working there either.
These decorations are tried and tested in our home. They are exactly measured to the spaces they fill and most years I can simply lift them into place and plug them in.
Voila. Christmas beauty.
Not this year.
So I had to decide. Fight the fight? Hunt relentlessly for the bulb I need to replace to get this light strand shining again?
Or concede defeat from the beginning, untangle the dead lights from the garland and replace it with a new strand?
For years, I chose the hunt.
But usually I ended a thirty minute wrestling match with the light strand with my hands cut to pieces, broken fingernails galore, and absolutely drained of Christmas cheer plus this: a still-broken string of lights because I never found the offending bulb.
Now, I choose to protect my joy and replace the lights instead. For about $5, I am a happier mom at Christmas time.
That’s how it went this year, having to unwind and undo just so I could rewind and redo.
I fought an epic battle. I twisted and tossed. I wrangled and wrestled.
Finally, I won.
I have light and I am pleased. My kids ooh and aahh.
I realize this: LIGHT IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR.
And how we have had to fight this year.
I have attended the funerals.
I have prayed for those who lost their children.
I have listened to the bitter hurt of mourning and sadness.
I have sat by hospital beds and carried meals and prayed for dear friends with cancer.
I have reminded myself over and over of this: first things first–in the crushing busyness of the schedule, I choose Christ before all, and this is hard and it is yet another fight.
And right there in the midst of all that darkness, I look for His Light.
Because this is what God promises.
John tells us:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5 ESV).
Later in his life, John writes it again:
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5 ESV).
EVEN IN THE PITCHEST BLACK OF THE DARKEST NIGHT ONE SHINY BULB CAN SPLIT THROUGH THAT DARKNESS WITH FIERCE DETERMINATION.
EVEN IN THE PITCHEST BLACK OF YOUR DARKEST NIGHT, GOD CAN SPLIT THROUGH THAT DARKNESS BECAUSE LIGHT IS WHO HE IS.
He is light, and in seasons of desperate darkness, what we need is Him.
In the dark, maybe we feel the strangling hold of fear. Maybe we feel disappointed and discouraged. Maybe deeply saddened and hopeless.
But the Psalmist reminds us:
“To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you” Psalm 139:12
God is not afraid, not of this darkness, not of the unseen or the unknown, not of the long night or the battle and the struggle.
Darkness and light: it’s all the same to Him, because He Himself is the light we need.
He shines through.
This Christmas, may we insist on seeing the Light.
May we open our eyes wide and ask for His presence, His light to shine, His glory to be seen.